Roughly 350 million years ago the world was a lot different to what we see around us now. Ireland’s place on planet earth wasn’t even close to where it is now, Limerick was said to be volcanic and much of the country was underwater. Clare even had the same number of All-Ireland Hurling titles as Kilkenny. A much different land! Global seas rose and fell, Ireland broke away from Pangaea, ice-ages came and went and things very slowly settled to what we see in North Clare now.
The Burren is now a unique area of stunning beauty said to resemble the surface of the moon. Whether touring The Burren by bike, on foot or by car there are treasures to be enjoyed at almost every single turn! Amazing natural history, breath-taking views and locally produced artisan foods will all leave you with a smile on your face and a desire to return! Here are just a few things you cannot miss if you are hitting The Burren along Clare’s Wild Atlantic Way this year!
1. Impress your old secondary school geography teacher
You probably remember words like “clint”, “gryke” and “erratic”…or not. Who cares?! But on a tour in The Burren your old geography class comes to life and, yes, it is actually quite cool. There are tons of interesting things to see that will awaken your curiosity way more than any book ever could. There are plenty of examples of nature’s power on display while you make your way from one amazing viewpoint to another. You’re sure to go home with a few interesting nuggets of information to make you seem a little more cultured!
2. The view from the top of Mullaghmore
This beautiful and unique mountain catches the eye, regardless of where you view it from. Sometimes called “Pancake Mountain” owed to its resemblance to a stack of pancakes, Mullaghmore beckons you to explore. Ranked as one of Ireland’s top walks, it is carpetted with some of the most unusual ferns, flowers and foliage, making the path as pleasant a view as the mountain itself. Passing turloughs, climbing over old stone walls and making your way over ridges you’ll reach the top feeling energised, fulfilled and ready to take on anything! And the view…well, come see for yourself!
3. Sampling the scents at The Burren Perfumery
By some strange fluke of geology and climate, the Burren is the only place on earth where Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean flowers grow side-by-side. There are Gentians, Orchids, Mountain Avens and Bloody Cranesbills to name but a few, that grow happily in the Burren. The combination of these scented flowers and other natural ingredients found in the local area gave rise to Ireland’s oldest working perfumery. There are candles, soaps, scented oils, perfumes, hand creams and more on display. Not to mention the charming tea-rooms, The Burren Perfumery really is a local treasure.
4. Beautiful Finavarra
The Finavarra man loves his native land, like the barnachs love the stone.
This verse can be found carved into a farmer’s wall just opposite one of Ireland’s most delicious ice-cream cafés. It says it all really. Finavarra is as close to island life as you will get on the mainland. It is quiet and peaceful, with views that will just blow you away. With plenty of history to be found too, such as the old Martello Tower & Barracks from the early 1800’s to the home built in honour of America’s independence, it’s no wonder Finavarra is many people’s favourite part of the Wild Atlantic Day tour!
5. Taking a moment at The Cliffs of Moher
People gasp. Some scream in amazement while others fall silent. Some stare, wide-eyed. Families embrace. Sometimes people get teary-eyed. Either way, everybody reacts. Nature’s power and patience in crafting this natural wonder leaves everyone powerless to their own emotions. At the Cliffs of Moher you need a moment. As the evening sun sets in the west it creates a mystical glow all along the cliffs…one that draws you back again and again. At the end of the Wild Atlantic Day, we give a moment to the groups to chat, to sit, to wonder, to watch and to dream. It’s that kind of place.
6. Spoiling yourself at Hazel Mountain Chocolate
This is like Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. Visiting an Artisan Chocolate Café that produces its own Bean-to-Bar Chocolates and wonderful coffee, cakes and treats seems a little like something out of a dream. And in Clare? And yet there is this choc-oasis in the heart of The Burren that will indulge your senses. With toppings such as chilli, red-pepper, seaweed, salt and oatmeal these bars are unforgettable! When you go, you have to try the Hot Chocolate – a favourite of all West Coast Cycle Tours’ visitors!
And wouldn’t you know it, each of these places are visited when you travel with West Coast Cycle Tours! So, get your friends together, get planning, get in touch and get to the Burren! And do it quick – experts say it’ll be gone in 4 million years…
– Enda (July ’15)
The West Awaits…